Margaret was a particularly romantic girl, being part of a group of young courtiers that wrote and exchanged love poems. The love sonnet was becoming fashionable in English court circles, as a result of Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard’s re-workings of Plutarch. Fuelled by notions of romantic love, and also perhaps by the unusual example of the King who had recently made a love match with Anne Boleyn, the young and attractive coterie around the new Queen created a hothouse ambiance of flirtation. This was encouraged by Anne Boleyn and would later be used against her.
Margaret behaved impeccably in the four years following the debacle that sent her to the Tower, but her romantic spirit had not been entirely quashed and it was yet another Howard boy, this time Charles, brother to the new queen, who caught her eye. But Katherine Howard was on the brink of a calamitous fall, due to her own amorous and adulterous behaviour, and when her household was investigated Margaret’s flirtation with Charles Howard emerged. He was banished and she was warned in no uncertain terms by the King that having ‘demeaned herself towards His Majesty, first with the Lord Thomas Howard, the second with Charles Howard’, to ‘beware the third time’. She was later happily married to the charismatic Earl of Lennox, in a political alliance that gave Henry VIII leverage over Scotland. This marriage produced two sons, one being Lord Darnley who was the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots and father of Scottish King James VI who eventually became James I of England.
On that note, Happy Valentine’s Day!
For Margaret Douglas and Katherine Grey’s stories see Leanda De Lisle’s Tudor: The Family Story & The Sisters who would be Queen; for the shenanigans of Elizabeth’s maids- of-the-chamber see Anna Whitelock’s Elizabeth’s Bedfellows and for Arbella Stuart’s sad tale see Sarah Gristwood’s Arbella: England’s Lost Queen.
Elizabeth Fremantle’s novel Sisters of Treason – out May 2014 – tells the tragic story of the Grey sisters.